As part of your new year's resolutions, you may want to focus on a few legal issues -- especially those that can affect your pocketbook.
With many Americans resolving to successfully manage their personal finances in the new year, taking a step back and evaluating your current situation is a good first step. After that, you'll want to figure out which areas of personal finance should take priority.
Here are five legal new year's resolutions that you'll want to consider, to give you more bang for your buck:
- Look into estate planning. In 2013, we witnessed the sudden passing of many celebrated artists, including James Gandolfini, Tom Clancy, and Paul Walker. Their untimely deaths make painfully clear the unpredictability of life and underscore the need to draft and revise wills, create trusts, and tend to other estate planning needs.
- Get your taxes done early. If you want to get your federal income tax return completed early, but you haven't received your W-2 yet, get started on the return by inputting your non-financial information on the form. By the second week of February, you should have your W-2s in hand and be able to fill in the rest of your return well before Tax Day. The payoff could be an expedited tax-refund check.
- Manage your student loans. In 2014, make it a point to take control of your student loans. If you're struggling to repay your loans, explore different strategies to manage them, such as: applying for income-based repayment, finding out who holds your loans, prioritizing your payments, exploring deferment programs, and applying for forbearance.
- Learn more about "Obamacare." Keep abreast of the potential penalties and exemptions of the Affordable Care Act. Beginning this year, most Americans who lack insurance will have to pay a penalty under Obamacare -- a penalty that's set to increase annually for some uninsured individuals. Of course once you sign up, don't forget to pay your premium!
- Start planning for retirement. A fantastic financial new year's resolution is to manage your personal finances and build a nice nest egg for retirement. To begin, assess your financial situation -- including your assets and liabilities -- and create a budget. Next, create an estimate of how you much you'll need to retire and how best to reach that goal.
Here's hoping 2014 is a year of great health, wealth, and prosperity for you and your loved ones. For more legal new year's resolution ideas, check out FindLaw's Legal Planning homepage and sign up for our free Legal Heads-Up newsletter.
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